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A Guide to Determining Roller Chain Sprocket Wear

Determining Sprocket Wear Directly

Hooked Shape

Examine the teeth of the sprockets, looking for signs of wear. The teeth in roller chain sprockets inevitably get a 'hooked' shape as they experience wear within a drive system. We also observe this pattern of wear in engineering steel drive sprockets.

Deepening Between the Teeth

Idler sprockets used in roller and engineering steel chain drives experience wear differently. Although they experience lower pressure, it still causes wear on their working faces. It causes deepening of the concave space between the teeth. The risk emerges when these tooth spaces show significant deepening from wear. It makes chain rollers bind against the idler-sprocket tip during entry or exit.

Indirect Signs of Sprocket Wear

A good way to determine if a sprocket needs replacement is to observe how it works with a new chain. When a new chain sticks, clings or binds when it disengages from a sprocket tooth, it is another sign of tooth wear. In such cases, replacing the sprocket becomes necessary. Another sign is when high-speed drives operate with roughness or emit noise. This could also signal significant sprocket wear and therefore require replacement.

Can You Use a Worn Out Sprocket or Extend Its Life?

Although the general rule of thumb is to replace the sprocket as soon as you notice extensive wear, there is an exception. In certain instances, a worn sprocket's lifespan might extend if you reverse the sprocket on the shaft. This is given the flange is centered precisely on the hub or there is ample space for such adjustment.

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